Thursday, September 07, 2006

Disputed Motivation

Yes, Disputed Mutability, that is a shout-out to you ;-). Hope you get back to blogging soon. But other than that, it's also the only title I could think to come up with for this post. Since I'm not good at putting things simply, you guys will have to read the whole thing to understand what I mean.

I've been observing a little bit about how I notice guys recently. Simply put, I'm attracted to them, but you all knew that already (or if you didn't, surprise!). In high school, when I saw a guy that I liked, I looked but made sure that no one else was seeing me look, and then later I would feel guilty for looking. It's pretty much the same way now, although most people don't care if I look (and if they're girls they'll probably be looking with me). Now it's not that I'm some sex-crazy person who lusts after every guy he sees; I really just can't help myself from, um, appreciating the male form (and there are some quite superb examples of the male form at UNCW, let me tell you). And I'm not going to suppress it or pretend it doesn't exist; trust me, I've been down that road already--the results aren't pretty.

However, there is one aspect of myself that I'm not liking that has really showed itself in college. Back in high school, I knew that the guys I was looking at were off limits (i.e. straight). That's because I knew everyone in my high school (I wasn't a social butterfly; more like wanderer who went from clique to clique looking for friends :-) Either way, that's changed in college. If I see a guy who catches my eye, my brain seems to immediately wonder whether or not he's of my, um, stripe.

Of course, thanks to the "metrosexual revolution" it's pretty hard to tell on sight. Sometimes I just wish all the guys who experienced SSA would wear signs, but then I start to wonder why I wish that. Even if I had the most honed "gaydar" in the world, and saw a cute guy of my orientation, what would I do? Run up to him and say "Hey! We should date!" Straight people don't do that, so why should I?

Plus, this near-obsession with finding gay men my age seems pretty counter-productive to my Christian faith and what I'm trying to do with it. I've made the argument (to myself, of course) that I'm looking for another SSA struggler for support, or maybe even an un-Christian gay man to befriend and witness to. That would be fine, except it seems that the only guys I wonder about are the ones I'm attracted to, which seems pretty indicative of an ulterior motive, doesn't it? ;-)

Still, I do sometimes wonder about where I stand. I'm definitely not looking for a sexual relationship, but I do wonder to what extent I should allow myself to have an emotional, affectionate relationship with a gay student. I know--according to the ex-gay community I need to bond with more masculine male peers (which I think I do, actually), but romantic affection is something that I've just never had...and that feels pretty lonely sometimes.

I would genuinely appreciate comments on this. Don't worry about offending me. Tell me what you think. (Cheryl, you've told me before, and I'm praying for strength akin to yours). Anyway, things are going great here. Hope you all have a good day/evening/whatever time it is when you read this. ;-)

Jay

14 comments:

kurt_t said...

I think you sound like a perfectly normal, healthy young man.

Angie said...

Hey friend! Like Kurt, I don't think you're abnormal at all! Most of my friends who deal with SSA (whether they've embraced it or taken the path less traveled of surrendering their attractions to God) have expressed these feelings at one time or another...

Unfortunately, I can't speak to you in this because I haven't been there. Still, knowing that you are exploring these feelings in the realm of the slant that your Christian beliefs provide... I'll ask, Have you ever read Chad Thompson's "Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would"? Just wondered if you were familiar with him...

Anyway, I recently got a DVD of him speaking at a "Living in Freedom" conference at a church in CA. He has a section called "Strategies for Success" that address some specifics about homosexuality... but can be transferred to other things as well. I've really found it motivational (to accomodate your blog post title!) in several areas I struggle with...

It's called "Bringing Christian Love Out of the Closet" and I'd be glad to send you a copy (I always buy multiple copies of stuff I like to share with friends). If you're interested... Sometimes it's better to see and hear someone rather than just read them. So, if you'd like a copy just send me a mailing address I can use thru my e-mail: keepintouchwithangie@yahoo.com

I'd love to send it to you just so I could get your thoughts about it (from the SSA perspective).

Let me know, friend!
Ang

einy said...

Jay!

I'm struggling with these things myself, but I'm not sure we're in the same situation when it comes to SSA. I haven't come out to myself yet, as I'm not sure it would be correct to classify myself as gay. Anyway - close relationships might be a good idea, as we all need that. But for my own part, as my feelings are now, I would be careful to pursue that kind of close one-to-one relationship with someone I knew was gay. Because you've stated your beliefs about acting out, you should be careful to get into situations that can be too tempting for you. Maybe, if your honest with the guy upfront about yourself, and tell him you only want a friendship. But it's so easy to change minds ones you've become emotionally and physicaly attracted to someone, though...

Einy

Oh - I would be really interested in you writing a post about how you look at girls, as well, think about them, etc. Their beauty, their bodies, their femininity, stuff like that. I'm interested because I'm trying to find out how a self-identified gay guy thinks about girls. Has there ever been any sexual thoughts at all?

Norm! said...

Hey Jay,

As an ex-exgay who was ex-gay in college, I really do empathize with your struggle. I had similar, conflicted thoughts in college, so I decided to 'play it safe' by befriending straight Christian men only. However, in hindsight now, I really do regret that I quarantined my life in college.

Be careful about labeling (gay, straight, Christian, non-Christian, potential convert, etc.) every potential friend. After all, Jesus shared meals with anyone and didn't view people as temptation. Instead of viewing all your relationships in light of your personal SSA struggle and faith, see people for their own value. You may even learn from people with different values and backgrounds. College is a terrific and a terribly short time to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Please don't waste this opportunity by viewing it within 'your struggle'.

As for SSA temptation, set some simple boundaries for yourself. Like a straight man and woman who met, stay in public or group settings. I understand, from the ex-gay perspective, it can seem like a potential fall is around every corner. However, the reality is that you control the direction of your relationships and you're not destined to fall just because your with another man with SSA.

Good luck!

Jay said...

KURT: Thanks. Even through all this, I think I'm the most mentally/spiritually healthy that I've been my entire life.

ANGIE: I'd take you up on that DVD, but I'm not sure where I'd find the time or place to watch it. I'll definitely look it up online, though. Is there a transcript or synopsis somewhere? And don't worry, reading has always been effective for me.

EINY: That's exactly the type of dilemma I could be facing, and that pretty much mirrors my thinking right now, too. But since I've yet to meet any gay people here, I haven't had to worry about it just yet. Oh, and thanks for giving me an idea for the next post! I'll get to my reactions to women when I have the time.

NORM: You are exactly right about the labeling! I have found myself being very hypocritical in this manner (i.e. not wanting to be labeled yet labeling everyone else). In fact, I think I'll post about this in the future too, and how my worship tends to be a little tunnel-visioned sometimes (i.e. putting too much emphasis on the SSA when there's a lot more to my life than that).

Brady said...

Hey Jay-

I dealt with some similar stuff in hs and some of college (although in College there weren't many gay guys, so I just continued assuming they weren't gay--the whole wondering if someone is gay is a newer phenonmenon for me)

Anyway, I think I agree with you that you may have some sort of ulterior motive in your subconcious. And, I think it probably does stem from the loneliness of not having a romantic relationship as of yet--that's a natural thing to want (and an issue I think a lot of anti-gay people don't understand for gay folks).

So, my advice- befriend anyone and everyone that interests you for any reason. Just be careful you keep an eye on your motives and your beliefs. Just because a guy is gay doesn't mean yall will hook up, and as long as you are clear to yourself and your friends about it, I think you could make some great connections.

Joe S said...

The most obvious gay guys (or any out guys at college) could encourage you to give up struggling. They will be seeking to validate their own choices. The guys you think are cute will certainly be able to influence you.

It's true that straight guys don't run up to girls and say, "Hey! We should date!" Gay guys don't do that either. They both do go up to people they find attractive, start talking to them, maybe flirt a little bit and then judged the other person's reaction. You will be tempted to do that too when your gaydar starts bleeping (do gaydars bleep?). If the other guy likes you, you will enjoy being noticed by a guy you think is cute.

grace said...

Hi Jay!
It's really just about making healthy choices for yourself...which doesn't mean you limit your friendships to only straight guys but it might mean that you seek out and pray for at least one Christian brother you can have an intimately close relationship with. Share your struggle with him. I guarantee you he struggles with sexual temptation as well. He will need you to hold him accountable and help him through his rough patches just as you will need him for the same. The fact that you are an 18 yr. old male who thinks about sex quite a bit is completely normal and I'm imagining ANY Christian guy you meet will have a sexual struggle of some sort. Does that help?
love ya!
grace

Jay said...

JOE: Yep, that pretty much sounds right. But I think I'll be able to hold my ground when differences come up (I already have when arguing with more liberal students who think living the gay lifestyle is fine). Like I said, this is hypothetical right now anyway, since I've yet to meet anyone.

GRACE: Glad to have you commenting again! It does help, and I'm certainly looking for a Christian guy to share this with. I've already told several Christian girls that are supportive, but it would be so cool to have a guy friend too. I'll be going to a small on-campus Bible study soon (it's all guys), and hopefully I'll meet one I can confide in there.

Tin Man said...

This is tough stuff. I think you are doing a great job. Just reasoning through this like you are means that you automatically are making good choices. Part of this stuff is just being a guy. I am a straight happily married man and I deal with this kind of stuff now. I love my wife and I am very attracted to her. However, I am alo attracted to every half-naked woman I see on TV, billboards, and internet advertisement. I am attracted to women at church and at work. I have these same kinds of questions when I talk to them and befriend them. I usually err on the side of not talking to them much if I might be attracted to them. I don't think this is right. So for you to be figuring all of this stuff out now, you are doing just fine. The key in all of this is your committment to Christ. If you are always second guessing yourself, then you might miss out on a relationship he intends for you to have.

disputed mutability said...

Hi Jay,

Here's my two cents.

I guess all I'd say is "Know thyself." I don't think there's anything wrong with having close friendships with gay people who don't share your convictions. Even ones you are attracted to. But, you gotta pay attention to what's going on in your heart and know your limits.

The thing about any motivations (in this or any other matter) is that they're never going to be totally pure this side of heaven. I believe that for any good thing we do, our motives are at least a little bit tainted. So, maybe I'm mostly motivated to volunteer for something at my church by a desire to serve God, but a little part of me wants to do it to try to impress people or feel needed or something sketchy like that. Does that mean I shouldn't volunteer? No. If I waited for pure motives to do anything, I'd never get anything done.

I think it's great to have a close gay friend. It helps if they respect your values and convictions at least somewhat and support you in that, but even if they don't, as long as you know where you stand, I think it's fine. It *will* stretch you and test you in some ways, but I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that. I would just say to be aware of who's influencing who, and how much. If the friendship starts to obviously erode your faith and your convictions, then you've got a problem. But that doesn't have to happen.

As far as a romantic, emotional, affectionate non-sexual relationship goes...ack! Ok, so here's what I believe. I don't think the Bible says anything about it, so I don't want to speak against it. It seems to me to be a matter of Christian liberty. But again, I'd say, "know thyself." I tried to go that route afer I became a Christian, and I totally blew it. There's a lot of room for self-deception there. I think there's a kind of person who can handle that kind of relationship. But I know that I am definitely not it. :)

Jay said...

Thanks for the advice DM. The main problem I've found is telling my gay friends where I stand. They know I'm a Christian, but they assume I'm a liberal Christian who thinks it's okay to be gay. I don't want to tell them otherwise, because I'm afraid of losing their friendship.

I don't think I'd have a problem with the affectionate, non-sexual relationship. The problem is that I do not want to hurt the other party involved.

Robert said...

Not that my POV is particularly Christian, but if we were meant to experience life without that particular kind of companionship, then I don't think families would be the foundation of society. The loneliness is definitely painful. Waiterrant.net puts it beautifully:

"Suddenly I understand why I’ve felt unsettled since talking to Beth.

My name is Legion.

When I was talking to Beth I was preaching to myself. I’m the crazed man living amongst the tombs. I’m the one who needs to be saved.

I’ve been alone for a while now and I’ve just begun to realize how loneliness can maim the spirit. Over the past couple of months I’ve noticed its corrosive effects.

The demon waits. Patiently"

Dominic R.J. said...

Jay,

Found your blog yesterday on Google while doing a search on "SSA." Appreciate your courage and honestly on this blog. Also, you have some great respondents who seem to show compassion, grace and a true sense of the character of Christ.

Peace be with you.